AVIATION & CHARITY
2 WORDS THAT GO TOGETHER
I have been involved flying physically and mentally challenged children and their parents for 5 years. Our mission statement is to give the opportunity to these kids to get a taste of flying that they might not normally have. Originally we dealt with a company Challenge Air (CA) who did this on a national basis. The problem with CA was that they had a lot of employees which led to a high overhead. The third year that wanted us to raise $20,000 for them to sponsor the event. We just did not have that kind of money. We looked into partnering with a company from Cleveland but things did not work out with them either due to finances. Finally we decided to form our own non profit 501(c) (3) corporation, and Sky Kids AZ was formed 3 years ago. Our 3rd event was completed at Goodyear Airport (GYR) last Saturday, flying 118 kids and 185 of their parents, and we have added an event for November 8 in Scottsdale (SDL).
It takes a lot of money and volunteers to put on an event like this. First the money. Total cost is approximately $12,000. At Sky Kids we do not have any paid employees. Every one on our board are volunteers, and there are no salaries. All money collected is used to put on the event. The largest expense is insurance which runs around $3,000 per event. A volunteer group provides everyone with a complimentary breakfast. Hot dogs and hamburgers are cooked by retired firefighters for lunch. T shirts are purchased for all volunteers, pilots and of course the Kids. The pilots donate their planes and pay for their own fuel. The FBO sells fuel at their cost. Port A Potties are rented along with tables and chairs. Without donations the event could not proceed.
Volunteers are the backbone of the event. Of course you have the pilots, 24 airplanes and 2 helicopters, along with 2 people per plane to help load the children and their parents. A ground school is taught to all participants. Volunteers are assigned to each family to stay with them throughout the day. Celebrities such as the Phoenix Suns mascot and Miss Arizona spend the day with us. The fire department has some of their trucks there that the kids can play on. A pilots briefing is held early in the morning to go over any last minute questions. The routing had been e mailed to all pilots along with latitudes and longitudes. We have 2 routes, one for slower planes and 1 for faster planes. Each ride lasts 20 minutes. White boards are set up listing each pilot and their plane along with who they are flying. Volunteers are there until the day is complete. When the flight is over the loaders bring out a certificate that the pilot signs and the kids are given their wings. They are then taken to a red carpet where there are volunteers applauding them. A lot of tears are shed at these events. Volunteers arrive early to set up the hangar with tables and preflight areas. All in all these events would not be successful without the volunteers.
Flying starts promptly at 8AM until finished around 2PM. Then the loaders are given a ride at the end of the day.
There you have it and hoping you might set up an event like this in your city.
Two weeks ago Scottsdale Air Center at Scottsdale Airport had a suitcase party with the proceeds going to charity. Everyone attending had a packed suitcase with them, and the winning couple were flown by private jet to Las Vegas for an all expenses paid weekend. They were then picked up on Sunday by private jet to return to SDL. Everything was donated. We had over 2,000 attend the event at $100 per ticket. This event raised $200,000 for charity. All enjoyed the food and music in the hangar.